Whoosh! Issue 42 - March 2000

IAXS project #751
By Janet Elizabeth Swainston
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1376 words

Introduction (01-02)
Id, Ego, and Superego (03-04)
Xena as Id (05-06)
Gabrielle as Ego (07-09)
Balance (10)
Sex?!? (11-12)

Subtext or Subconscious


"A man should not strive to eliminate his complexes, but to get into accord with them; they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world."
   -- Sigmund Freud [Note 01]

[1] Have you ever felt so alone in the world, that you were your own best friend? Is your own company sometimes more fulfilling than any other companion? Do you sometimes think that you are the only one who really understands you? If this sounds like you, then you have a kindred spirit in Xena, Warrior Princess, and her friend, Gabrielle. For anyone who has ever wished that they could be someone else, Xena is like a mirror for a common human desire: to escape our real personality and create a 'persona' that is a physical representation of the best of our inner self.

You've still got some of those lice living in your hair, you know.

A tender moment in PARADISE FOUND.

[2] Though many of the fans state that Xena and Gabrielle are lesbian lovers, perhaps it is less about two separate individuals in a physical/emotional/spiritual relationship than it is about a physical manifestation of the id, the ego, and the superego.

Id, Ego, and Super-ego

[3] The id, or the subconscious core personality where our internal existence comes from, is defined by Webster's Dictionary as one of the three divisions of the psyche that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives [Note 02]. The Webster's definition of ego, or the personality we create to filter our true selves into the world, is the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world. This self is the one that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality. Finally, Webster's defines the superego as one of the three divisions of the psyche that is only partly conscious, which represents internalization of parental conscience and the rules of society, and functions to reward and punish through a system of moral attitudes, conscience, and a sense of guilt [Note 3].

[4] Simply put, the id is who we are, the ego is who we want to be, and the superego is the tempering force between. Are Xena and Gabrielle just manifestations of the id and the ego? Which is which? Who takes on the role of superego?

Xena as Id

[5] The character history combined with the historical time period (let us ignore all instances of anachronism for the sake of some clarity) is a good place to start.

[6] When Xena and Gabrielle, two formidable personalities, met, Xena's was the dominant personality. She was a strong woman with a lifestyle that is believable for the time period. A warrior woman was feasible. The lifestyle was harsh, lonely, and, in truth, not very exciting. The life of a warrior was not glamorous nor was it full of the finer, more refined things in life. Xena's life was about survival. Survival did not leave much time for art, literature, spiritual study, or meaningful personal growth. Xena embodied what life was truly like for an individual of that time.

Gabrielle as Ego

[7] Then along comes Gabrielle, a person of life, light, and vitality. Gabrielle is searching for some excitement and meaning in the world around her. She is searching for her place within society. She is a dreamer. Gabrielle has led a fairly sheltered life in a protective family environment, but she soon discovers that this life, for her, is not so much "protective" as it is restrictive. She longs for the freedom to grow as a person and to express herself in any way she chooses. This is an unusual state of affairs for an individual in this time period.

[8] The little bard suddenly enters Xena's life, almost as if a secret wish or a dream of the Warrior Princess has been fulfilled. It is as if Xena's grim and dreary life has pushed her psyche into a place where what few hopes and dreams she may have are now a living, breathing representation of her. Even Gabrielle's fair hair, skin and light eyes illustrate that she is the lighter part of Xena's soul. It is not impossible to believe that someone whose life is a horror would fantasize that she is not a person who destroys, but someone who creates. A person with a guilty conscience will often ultimately try to make up for what they have done by doing good deeds.

[9] Throughout the evolution of the series, these characters have grown, but, most of all, Gabrielle. As Xena allows more of her fantasy self to come alive, so too does the fantasy self grow in strength and dimension. Gabrielle represents all the things that Xena wishes she was. No wonder the two are so close. How could one not be close to her "better half" on all levels? To express a love of your self, there must be physical contact, as well as an emotional, spiritual, and mental bond.


[10] Everyone has a tempering force within, a force which helps to control the instinct of the id and the outrageousness of the ego. In the beginning of their relationship, it is Gabrielle who surpasses Xena as the one who is the conscience of the pair. The younger woman, though she is also the fanciful part of Xena's soul, is also the one who provides the brakes when Xena's darker instincts take over. By the same token, when Gabrielle's flighty notions threaten to overpower the practicalities of their life together, Xena will step in with a sobering dose of reality. This is as it should be, where neither the core personality nor the evolving personality dominates completely. Thus do the two women together represent a balanced and whole person.


Xena, when did you get this 'Property of Draco' tattoo on your back?

Two buds in a tub.

[11] Gabrielle's and Xena's refusal to allow others into their intimate frame of reference for very long is a survival trait, a form of self-preservation. Vulnerability in a lifestyle like Xena's only insures a very short existence, or a complete loss of individuality. The physical act of sex becomes less and less important as the spiritual needs increase. Xena's previous liaisons were fierce and purely physical urges. Gabrielle's experiences have either ended or begun in tragedy. Neither has known a beautiful act of love. In fact, historically, it is highly improbable that anyone knew the act of love as we know it today. Women were second or third class citizens (depending, of course, on their husbands' feelings about the value of livestock), and this goes a long way toward understanding the rejection of sex, love, and marriage.

[12] Is there subtext and these two women are lovers "in love", or are they merely the representation of the basic human desire to have understanding, constant companionship, and expression of individuality? Either way, they are close, and they give us a sense of wholeness, purpose, and fulfillment.


Note 01:
The Peoples Cyber Nation http://www.cyber-nation.com/index.html
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Note 02:
Definitions for the terms 'id', 'ego' and 'superego' were found at: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary Online http://www.m-w.com
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Note 03:
Links for research into Freud's theories were found at: Sigmund Freud And The Freud Archives http://plaza.interport.net/nypsan/freudarc.html
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Janet Elizabeth Swainston Janet Elizabeth Swainston
Janet Elizabeth Swainston is an aspiring screenwriter. She has been writing plays, poetry, and short stories since childhood, when she had her Barbies do a remake of STAR WARS, and created radio plays and programs with her best friend. She also sings, acts, and directs. Currently, she is in the process of completing an updated draft of her first screenplay for submission. Janet also runs her own Xenaverse/Joxer specific fan fic website, which she designed and updates herself, called The Bard's Tales at http://www.crosswinds.net/~kateaofpompeii
Favorite episode: THE PLAY'S THE THING (85/417)
Favorite line: Gabrielle to Xena: "She did say thespians, didn't she?" THE PLAY'S THE THING (85/417)
First episode seen: KEY TO THE KINGDOM (78/410)
Least favorite episode: SEEDS OF FAITH (99/509)

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